x
Breaking News
More () »

Fort Smith/Fayetteville News | 5newsonline KFSM 5NEWS | Get the local news and weather where you live from 5NEWS. Covering Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Bentonville, and all of Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley.

VERIFY: Can President Trump pardon himself?

There's been a lot of talk about presidential pardoning powers. Here's what a president can, and can't, do.

SAN DIEGO — As President Trump's time in office is coming to an end, some sources are reporting he's considering not only pardoning members of his family but also himself.

Trump has given out several pardons but a President has never pardoned himself. Nixon was pardoned, but that was by Ford after Nixon left office.

Now, legal experts from all over are weighing in.

“The consideration of a self-pardon is not unprecedented but if it were actually used, it would be and it would create a historical precedent,” legal analyst, Dan Eaton said.

Article two of the U.S. Constitution simply states: "The President has the power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States."

Does that mean the President can pardon himself?

The answer is unclear since it's never been done before.

"When you look at the scholarly literature, there's a question as to whether the terms grant and pardon imply that there has to be a grantor and a grantee that are separate. And it's this type of textual analysis that would ultimately have to be done," Eaton said.

It would take a court of law to decide, but only if someone were to challenge it.

“It would be tested in court if there was an attempt for Federal prosecutors, the Department of Justice to prosecute him," he said.

RELATED: VERIFY: What's a pardon, and how does it work?

Do pardons apply to all crimes?

No. 

While they can be broad and preemptive, pardons only cover federal offenses, leaving the door open for state or local authorities to prosecute. 

In New York, for example, prosecutors are looking into financial matters involving Trump. Civil legal actions could also move forward despite a pardon.

Some experts warn: if Trump were to pardon himself, it could backfire.

RELATED: Reports: Trump asking aides about pardoning himself, Ivanka, Donald Jr., Eric

“The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld that a pardon implies the acceptance of some degree of at least potential criminal guilt and there's a real question as to whether or not the President would wanna do that particularly if he remains in jeopardy down the line of state prosecution where such an admission at least theoretically might be useable against him," Eaton explained. "This is a President who has less than two weeks in office, so a decision has to be made very quickly because when he leaves office, the power to pardon leaves with him.”

Some fear if Trump were to pardon himself and it was upheld, it sets a precedent that presidents are above Federal law.

The White House has not commented.